The Binary

by Bloomengine

Episode 2 of Vicious Cycles
Science Fiction

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Number of Reviews: 4
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A Little Sketchy, But A Solid Idea, December 7, 2011
by Joey Jones (UK)
Related reviews: IF Comp 2011, short game, hypertext

The basic concept of The Binary is that you replay the same few minutes over and over until you get the right change in the time-line. You use things you learned from earlier play-throughs to proceed. Because the pace is moving so quickly, you barely have time to take stock of your surroundings before the time loops back again. But that's okay, because the time is always going to loop back again. This works well because when you want to get things done, there's a great sense of urgency and economy of action. When you don't need to get things done, you can look at things free in the knowledge that you can look at other things in the next go around.

Despite the non-linear timeline aspect of it, the plot itself is pretty linear, though there is one real and difficult choice to make near the end (I only played to completion once so I don't know if the other ending proves fatal). Like all of these non-parser games, figuring out what to do next is easy because you just exhaust all of your remaining limited options. The Binary had the additional time element (some actions would only work at certain times etc.) but even still I wouldn't have needed any hints or a walkthrough. Not to say that the game was a walk in the park: I'd say the challenge was on the lower end of well pitched.

The substance of the plot (working for a strange group of time travellers on an island with a man in your head interspersed with memories of your father and a dash of mysticism) was a little hit and miss. I liked the dual-narrative aspect of it, but the nature of the time travelling group and their motives seemed a little wooly. I suppose there is only so much I can ask for in a game this short.

Though not as smooth as The Play, The Binary works very well visually, refreshing what you can see each round. Ultimately, hyper-link games are limited in comparison to parser-based IF and so it's hard to compare. Compared to earlier hyper-text games, it's pretty swish.

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